The Timberwolves’ injury situation worsened Saturday.
Already without center Nikola Pekovic, who missed his seventh game because of bursitis in his right ankle, the Wolves were also without center Kevin Love and shooting guard Kevin Martin for their game against Portland at Target Center.
Love has played through ankle, knee and back injuries in recent weeks. This time it is a quad contusion — he talked pregame about getting kneed by New Orleans center Greg Stiemsma during Friday’s loss. It is unclear how long he will be out.
“They took him out [pre-game] and worked him out and did treatment and they just said before the game he was too sore to play,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said of Love. “I didn’t know about it, probably, until a half hour before game time.”
As for Martin, he injured the thumb on his left (non-shooting) hand late in Friday’s loss. X-rays showed a non-displaced fracture of the distal phalanx in the thumb. Non-displaced means the bone is broken, but still aligned, and will not require surgery. Martin will be sidelined indefinitely, but almost certainly won’t play until after the All-Star break.
That means the Wolves met the Blazers without their top three scorers, three players that, together, average 62.6 points, 25.7 rebounds and seven assists.
Chase Budinger started for Martin and Dante Cunningham for Love. Ronny Turiaf made his seventh start in Pekovic’s place.
These developments come after the starters enjoyed a rather injury-free start to the season.
Then Pekovic was lost after leaving the team’s game at Chicago Jan. 27 and is not expected back until after the break.
Love had managed to fight through the injuries to post four games in a row with at least 25 points and 15 rebounds, including his 26-point, 19-rebound game at New Orleans. Love had gotten to the free throw line 17 or more times in three consecutive games.
A big thank you
But the bad news didn’t stop Love from offering the fans a big thank you. A little more than a week ago, Love came to the team with an idea.
He had just been named an All-Star Game starter thanks to a late swell of votes, many of which came from this area. And he wanted to thank the fans.
His plan: To take out a full-page advertisement in the Star Tribune.
“It was my idea,” Love said Saturday. “I talked about wanting to do something. It was a spontaneous idea. I offered to pay for it, but they said no, they would take care of it.’’
So the Wolves picked up the tab, but Love had creative control. The ad, which appears on the back page of this section, has a picture of Love shooting, along with to fans that reads, in part: “I was humbled and honored by your support in getting named as a starter for the 2014 All-Star Game in New Orleans. Timberwolves fans and the people of the Upper Midwest have been awesome since the day I arrived in Minnesota.’’
“They stepped up big time this year,” Love said of the fans. “Our in-house guys and our PR staff did a great job of getting everybody involved, and it seemed I heard my name 100 times during the home games, trying to get out the vote for me.
“It really meant a lot to me, and I just wanted to find a way to pay it forward, show love back to them.’’